Rillo signs with Benedictine footballFebruary 20, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — Nathan Rillo signed to play collegiate football at Benedictine University (Ill.) on Thursday.
“It was a sigh of relief,” said Rillo as he described the moment he signed his letter of intent. “As soon as I signed my name on the paper, it was just a good feeling overall. I’m excited for the next four years of my life."
Wildcats coach Tony Lewis recalled his first impressions of Rillo as a giving person who always had a smile on his face and was willing to do whatever necessary for the good of the team. His earliest memories include watching Rillo spend extra time helping the kids with instruction during Jasper's summer youth camp, and he thinks Rillo is deserving of the opportunity to compete at the next level.
“We’re extremely proud of Nathan,” said Lewis. “He was one of our leaders. (He’s) got a great attitude and work ethic. Because of those things and his natural athletic ability, he’s got a chance to be very successful at Benedictine. We’re excited to see him go on and compete at the collegiate level.”
Rillo said he was very deliberate in his selection process, which included five other schools, but said a collection of campus visits and warm receptions from the coaching staff drew him in toward Benedictine.
“I took a gameday visit up at Benedictine,” said Rillo, who plans to study marketing. “I really liked the campus. The coaches were welcoming and supportive. I took another visit up there that was more campus-based. That’s when I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
Rillo stepped into the starting quarterback slot for the Wildcats as a junior after then-starter Jacob Ahlbrand suffered a knee injury against the Boonville Pioneers. He finished that season 5-3 as the starter, including a 34-12 win over the Evansville Harrison Warriors in the first round of sectional.
Rillo started back at the Wildcats’ helm for the first four games this past season before switching to wide receiver against the Vincennes Lincoln Alices. He believes that experience allowed him to not only demonstrate his versatility, but also his willingness to do what needs to be done for the good of the team.
“That just tells the coaches I can play anywhere that they put me,” said Rillo, who was recruited as a quarterback. “Whether that’s quarterback, receiver (or) punter. I can play wherever.”
Rillo is excited his time and dedication playing football has paved the way for a college opportunity. He’s grateful for the memories given by the Wildcats and looks forward to gearing up for the Eagles.
“It all came to me in one moment,” he said. “Signing that paper, I just thought about all the hard work, working out in the weight room (and) every practice getting ready. I thought about my teammates and how we made memories. I’ll remember that for as long as I live. I’m looking forward to going up in the summer having two-a-days, workouts and all that.”
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